how to get upper body strength

How To Get Upper Body Strength: 5 Simple Tips You Need To Know

You might be a dedicated runner who logs in many miles per week. As a result, you have strong, solid legs and calves, of which you are most likely very proud of. In turn, having good lower body strength definitely helps with stability, as well as staying comfortably fit and active when going about day-to-day activities, e.g. doing chores, running errands.

While your lower body is in tip-top shape, you must not also forget about your upper body, namely of which includes your arms, chest, and abdomen. You might think that it is not necessary to work out the area as a runner, but in fact, having good upper body strength can make a difference between being a good runner and a great one.


In other words, a good upper body offers stability and support for the back, which is connected to your legs that propels you forward while exercising. That said, it is highly encouraged that you work out your upper body as much as your lower body.

In this article, we will give you tips on how to get upper body strength, and pretty soon, you will be stronger and faster than ever before. Let’s start!


Things You Will Need for this Tutorial

Especially if you have never worked out your upper body before, the process to getting there might come off as daunting at first. However, we assure you that it is just like working out your lower body, in terms of dedication and intensity.

Even further, you do not need to spend a lot on equipment, let alone need to pay for a gym membership! By having these few, easy items, you can just about do any upper body workout at home:

  • Weights. These are the standard for just about any upper body workout out there, from bicep curls to shoulder presses to triceps extensions. Dumbbells are easy to obtain, and you can start out with lighter weights before advancing to heavier ones later down the line.
  • Yoga mat. A versatile item, yoga mats are excellent for working out the chest, arms, and abdomens all at once. With it, you can perform push-ups, sit-ups, and just about any other body weight exercises you can think of.
  • Horizontal bar. Essentially, this item is a bar that can be wedged between two walls, and which you can use to do chin-ups for the arms and back. It might be a bit challenging for beginners, but there is always a time to start somewhere!
  • Medicine ball. For abdomen exercises, you can use the medicine ball to do Russian twists, as well as overhead sit-ups. If heavy enough, you can also use it for arm workouts, such as the ball throw, to target the shoulders and chest.
  • Bench press machine (optional). While not essential for upper body workouts, you might want to consider investing in a bench press if you want to get more serious with improving your upper body strength. Working out the chest, arms, and back, this machine can be a worthwhile investment.

Workouts for Upper Body Strength

1. Pushups and sit-ups. These two workouts are classics in the exercise world, let alone in that of upper body strengthening. Not only are they easy to perform, but they also do not require any equipment at all.

That said, you can choose to do these workouts on the floor or, for extra support, on a yoga mat. To build endurance, start with short reps of each, alternating between both to target both the arms and the abdomens. Once you start getting comfortable with the reps, you can choose to increase the amount you do.


2. Bicep curls, foreman curls, and triceps extensions. All of these three workouts are dedicated to arm strength; doing these exercises will not only increase muscle mass in those areas, but they will also increase your arm swing’s power and force to propel you forward during runs.

It is a good idea to start with lighter weights (e.g. no more than five pounds) if you are a novice, as well as keeping the reps low, but frequent. Later, you can either choose to increase the weights or increase the number of reps for the workouts.


3. Chin-ups. Once you have a fairly good command of pushups, bicep curls, and other weight-training exercises, you can try your hand at chin-ups as a challenge. Make sure that the wall to which you anchor the horizontal bar is stable and that the bar will not slide off while exercising.

First, test to see how many you can do naturally, before setting your goal to achieve later down the line. You might only be able to get in three reps at first, but with some practice, you will get better.


4. Shoulder presses. Since shoulders are important for back support (and for good posture while running), they should not be neglected as well.

Using dumbbells, you can perform overhead presses by swinging the weights upwards until they touch above your head. After several reps, you will feel the burn, but know that it is only temporary and after a few workouts, you will build resistance to it and enhance your shoulder strength.


5. Deadlifts. If you have a bench press at home, performing deadlifts are a surefire way to improve back strength in no time. However, when doing this particular workout, it is highly recommended that you have a spotter, i.e. someone who can look at your form, as well as help you correct it.

When starting out, begin with the lighter weights to prevent yourself from getting injured; later, you can increase the weights to accommodate for your improved strength.


In essence, running not only requires the cooperation of your lower body parts (e.g. calves, hips, feet), but also that of your upper body.

Working out areas like your arms, chest, back, and abdomen can make a huge difference in your running performance, as it can provide improved posture, which then increases airflow to your respiratory system, so that you can run farther and faster. That said, give upper body workouts a try!

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